In 2018, in West Virginia, a Parkersburg City Councilman named Eric Barber was so dickish about having Christian prayers at meetings that when some atheists remained seated during the invocation, Barber stared them down, turned on the microphone after the prayer, and shouted “Amen” into it — presumably to let those dissenters know which religion mattered more.
When Brett Kavanaugh was nominated to the Supreme Court, Barber responded by gleefully posting online, “Better get you’re [sic] coathangers [sic] ready liberals.”
That same year, when a psychologist said there was nothing wrong with a boy who enjoyed wearing dresses, Barber claimed the psychologist was “one of the many gay men who enjoys watching pre puberty boys compete in drag shows.”
And now Barber is in the spotlight once again because — you’re never going to believe this — he appears to be one of the right-wing nuts who rioted at the Capitol last week.
A video taken at the scene appears to show Barber right in the mix inside the Capitol, which is especially interesting given that he told the Parkersburg News and Sentinel and a local news station that (in the newspaper’s words) “he did not enter the building.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is now calling for an investigation into the matter, partly because of their own run-ins with him in the past:
Local residents believe they have spotted Barber in photos and videos showing him outside the Capitol on Jan. 6. Barber also posted photos of doors being breached just a few feet away from where insurrectionists were entering.
Local individuals have reported Barber to the FBI. The local Wood County Indivisible group has posted videos that appear to show Barber in a military-style helmet during the attacks. The group has also transcribed what appear to be his remarks while in the Capitol, including this statement about the police: “They’re giving us the building?”
“We know from personal experience that Christian Nationalists at all levels of our government pose a grave threat to individual liberties and our secular form of government,” comments Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “Now we know just how dangerous some of these Christian Nationalists are.”
To be sure, his identity hasn’t been confirmed and he has not been charged with anything. His reputation was trash before the insurrection, but if it turns out he was one of the rioters, would anyone be surprised at this point given his history of using his position to promote Christianity and bigotry?